Born and raised in Abu Dhabi, Azza grew up to live through the transformation the UAE was undergoing. After attending both high school and university in Abu Dhabi, Azza started her career 8 years ago in the governmental sector. Like many driven, ambitious and goal oriented young people, she quickly realised that the public sector was not her cup of tea. Soon enough, Azza joined the banking sector for 5 years after which she finally joined Saadiyat Beach Club as a brand ambassador.
Moving from the 8-4 corporate job in finance to the hospitality sector as a brand ambassador and host for a beach club was not what one could describe as a normal transition. It was a totally new field, I didn’t have any expertise, but one thing I knew I would do perfectly was that I was willing and open to learn. One thing that was a great heIp was that I used to MC for various events, both corporate and governmental. Being an MC is about connecting with your audience, setting the tempo and being a great host, much like my current role at the Saadiyat Beach Club. I wasn’t in entirely new waters after all!
Four years ago, Azza was in Monaco where she visited the Monte Carlo Beach Club. Rumours were already hinting that a possible opening of a new Monte Carlo Beach Club in Abu Dhabi was imminent.
A year later, I received a phone call from TDIC saying I was head hunted to take on the position of brand ambassador. I was surprised, excited and at the same time overwhelmed by the amount of work I’d have to do in order to learn about the hospitality sector, the beach club and everything such a position entails.
Saadiyat Island is an old traditional venue for Emirati families to escape the city and enjoy refreshing family boat trips, fishing and barbecues. A few decades, and even years ago, it was an undeveloped land where only few ventured. Today, the development of the island is unprecedented, and the scale of the operations is incredible. Saadiyat Island is an iconic Island that Emiratis are proud of given its impact in reshaping the UAE and establishing the city as a hub for cultural, educational and artistic developments.
In Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Beach Club is the first of its kind, although Dubai has already espoused the concept a while back. It was hard at the beginning to introduce Emirati families to the nature of our establishment and get them to come and enjoy the place. We tried to communicate to the public that Saadiyat Beach Club is not a venue for partying and going wild, it’s primarily for Families, couples or individuals interested in a calm escape, or willing to just walk along our pristine beach, lunch and dine or smoke shisha at the side of the pool. This place is for everyone.
Saadiyat Island is much like a mini maldives, and Saadiyat Beach Club is as close as it gets to the pearl within this gorgeous paradise. More and more Emiratis are flocking towards the Saadiyat Beach Club in order to evade the stressful environment in the city and have a peaceful retreat with their friends and loved ones. Why would one charter a private jet to the Seychelles when you can just take a 30 min car ride out of the city!
We have seen a big change since I joined. More Emirati families are joining our membership plans and new comers are on the rise. The secret is, as an Emirati I put myself in the shoes of our guests and try to offer services that they’d want to have. As a host I try to be flexible and attend to all their needs however various they may be. We also try to keep the membership circle small so that we know personally our guests and build a strong relationship with them. Feeling at home away from home is our mantra, and I’m glad our numbers reflect how successful we have been at creating that feel here.
As a female Emirati, Azza Al Mughairy didn’t have it easy. The familial circles in the UAE are still conservative to some extent, and having a daughter jumping from one job to another before ending as a Brand Ambassador at a Beach Club is as close as it gets to a father’s worst nightmare.
My family of course was skeptical about my plans and career-jumps. They were constantly asking if I was risking my career options by switching from an industry to another. They were more concerned when I decided to leave a steady and high pay job in the public sector to join the banking industry, but I managed to surpass their wildest concerns when I signed up with Saadiyat Beach Club. I was working on the weekends, getting back late, and being in the hospitality industry didn’t make it any easier to accept for my parents, but overtime they realised how passionate ad happy I was with my current role. When my name was put out there on national media and they started reading articles about me, they supported me even more.
Azza represents a wider trend within new generations of Emiratis who are looking for more than just a paycheque.
We used to do what we were comfortable with, but now the new generation of Emiratis is more flexible, more open minded and more willing to take on unconventional paths to fulfil their passion. The government jobs are not cutting it anymore even with high pay, satisfaction and fulfilment are becoming a high priority for young Emiratis and generally this is a very welcomed development. In my case I wasn’t interested in job security, and money was never my driving motive. I started from the bottom, taking any MC gigs available (sometimes the audience was small or non-existent, but I insisted on putting my name out there), going for the public sector then switching to banking and experiencing with different positions. Through knowing what I don’t like, I realised what I am passionate about. Every aspect of my career path contributed to who I am today and I wouldn’t change anything if I could go back in time.
What advice can Azza give to other young Emiratis looking up to her?
People think that being an Emirati, or wearing a shayla and an abaya is a barrier that restricts what you can do or what environments you can work on. That’s just a limitation you mentally create. When there is a will, there is a way. Start from the bottom and never feel entitled to anything whatsoever. I started really low, I was in a call centre and I learned along the way. You can’t just start as manager or a high level executive because you’re an Emirati. Starting from low level jobs and rising through the ranks is a better educational journey, you get to understand all levels of corporate management, you get to appreciate various skills and build a powerful personality that can cope with various skills, tasks and command structures.
The story of Azza is that of many young Emiratis setting new standards for success and accomplishments. A new generation is rising and demanding more from life. It’s not about money only anymore, it’s about finding a purpose, following a passion and aspiring for happiness and success. Azza is an inspiration, a role model for those who have been hesitant or reluctant in taking risk to run after their dreams. Azza al Mughairy should not be an exception, it should be the rule in a United Arab Emirates where innovation, leadership and motivation are the state tenets.